If you’re living with significant liver damage due to an untreated, chronic Hepatitis C infection you’re likely to need emotional and/or physical support at certain points in your journey. These needs are often met by family and friends who might accompany you to medical appointments or help with household chores such as cleaning or preparing meals.
It’s important to keep in mind that the person giving care and the person receiving care are in this together – sometimes referred to as “care partners.” You as the person with the disease may be the one requiring assistance, but the needs and concerns of both partners must be addressed for the relationship to stay healthy.
The person giving care – the caregiver – often experiences many of the same emotions that you might experience: stress, anger, fear, isolation, depression. As the caregiver takes on more responsibilities it can be overwhelming for him or her to balance assisting you, along with their job, the kids, household duties and so forth. This can lead to the caregiver feeling burned out.
It’s very important for the caregiver to take steps to ward off burnout. One of the biggest mistakes that caregivers make is to think that they can – or should – handle everything themselves. They start to neglect their own needs, both emotional and physical, and the strain begins to take a toll. The warning signs for burnout can include:
- Decreased interest in work
- Withdrawing from social contacts
- Losing interest in hobbies or sports
- Trouble sleeping or relaxing
- Losing or gaining weight
- Emotional or physical exhaustion
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
To counteract burnout, the following strategies are recommended for the caregiver:
- Have a support network
- Attend a support group to receive feedback and coping strategies
- Rotate the type of care giving responsibilities among family and friends
- Get exercise and maintain a healthy diet
- Stay involved in hobbies
- Establish “quiet time” for reading, meditation, or massage
- Consult with a professional to explore burnout issues
- Arrange for respite care when needed
Successful caregivers learn that they need to care for themselves if they are to effectively care for others. Following are some resources that can help:
Caregiver Action Network
Educates, supports, and empowers more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age. Free member benefits include Take Care! – a quarterly newsletter.
The Well Spouse Association
Website – www.wellspouse.org
Tel – 800-838-0879
Advocates for and addresses the needs of individuals caring for a chronically ill and/or disabled spouse/partner.
- Publishes Mainstay, a quarterly newsletter and Member Minute, an e-newsletter
- Provides networking/local support groups
- Organizes regional respite weekends and a national conference for caregivers
Website – www.caregiver.com
Tel – 800-829-2734
- Publishes Today’s Caregiver, a bi-monthly magazine and Today’s Caregiver e-newsletter
- Provides links to many resources such as government and nonprofit agencies
- Provides networking and support groups
This page has been updated September 2015.